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Scrapbooking Simplified

Busyscrapper-courtneywalsh F+W Marketing Manager Ginger Rohlfs recently sent me Courtney Walsh's new book, The Busy Scrapper, to review.  And the book has me thinking.

While I'm only on page 36 (of 128) so I can't offer a real review at this point, I wanted to comment on what I've read so far.

Courtney's tips encouraged me to consider why I don't scrapbook often.  Sure, one reason is *probably* being disorganized and not being able to see the worktable surface in my scraproom/office.  Another reason is undoubtedly time - a full-time job, two kids, a husband, and a horse of a dog do eat up most of my waking hours.  But another reason, I'll freely admit, is self-paralysis.  I know many people suffer from this, in various forms, and not just related to scrapbooking.

The self-paralysis has to do with expectations and assumptions, I think.  Assuming that you have to do something a certain way, and all at one sitting.  Assuming that your results should turn out as well as someone else's.  Expecting those results to be just-so.  Expecting everything to go smoothly in each step of the process.  And honey, that's just not the way Real Life is.  Whether we're talking about scrapbooking, or knitting, or organizing your closet, or dealing with co-workers.

OK - end Life Lesson.  Paging through Courtney's book has me excited about scrapbooking again.  Has me thinking, "I can *do* this!" Because her tips and comments are empowering, yes, but also reminders that have the ability to slap you upside the head, even in their simplicity.

Like this tip from the Making Art Faster chapter...

"Use Less Stuff.
Here's an idea: Put fewer embellishments on your pages.  You'll not only speed up your process, your purchases will stretch a lot farther, and your pages will look a lot cleaner..."

This is a reminder that cardstock, a strip of patterned paper, some chipboard letters, and a journaling block tells the story just as well as inked edges on everything, hand-sewn buttons, and mats with machine-stitching. 

Not that artfully-embellished pages don't have their place - I know as well as anyone the artistic expression scrapbooking allows.  But if the expectation of "artistic expression" is stifling you, or actually smothering your creativity, and keeping your stories from being told, I'd say it's time to reconsider, and take another approach.

This book also helped me see that other approach.  One thing that keeps me from being productive is too many choices.  When I first started scrapbooking back in the day (the day being July 17, 1997, to be exact), there were so few scrapbooking supplies on the market.  You had a few basic shades of cardstock, and Frances Meyer patterned paper, and you liked it, goshdarnit!  (Heh, I remember the thrill of seeing the Hermafix tab dispenser for the first time, and thinking how it would 'revolutionize' scrapbooking.  But I digress...)  But when there were fewer supplies, you just used what you had, and you scrapped.  And I churned out page after page.  Because I didn't know any "better" - there was no "better". 

Now I have a whole room filled with supplies and spend a good chunk of any available scrapbooking time looking through everything, trying to decide what to use.  Add to that the fact that I scrap more digitally now, than with paper, and that digital freebies are abundantly available, giving me even *more* stuff to look through.  Even when/if everything is (fairly) organized, and sorted by color any manufacturer/designer, I still have to look through it all to decide what to use.  But this tip from Courtney may save me some valuable time:

"Pick out five products and use only those five things on a page.  You may worry you're limiting yourself, but in reality, by focusing on just a few elements, you're likely to activate your creativity.  Plus, you'll eliminate the time consuming task of making decisions."

So, instead of *assuming* you need to look through everything you own, just *pick* something and start scrapping.  If too many choices are keeping you from scrapbooking, just don't look.  Eliminate the majority of the choices, just choose some paper and a small handful of embellishments - or even better, a ready-made coordinated kit - and scrap.  When working on some digital theme albums, I have been more productive when I choose one kit and use that throughout.  The paper and embellishment choices are made ahead of time, so I don't waste time on making new choices when I start a new layout. 

Of course, I further paralyze myself by browsing through the literally hundreds of digital page layout templates for each page (for paper scrappers, this would mean flipping through pages of layout sketches) - so next scrap session, I'm going to do myself a favor, and choose 3-5 templates ahead of time, and just use those through out.  The nice thing about templates (and sketches) is that you can rotate them, and voila! You have a 'new' layout idea.  So I could use the same 3-5 templates throughout an album, and by rotating them, I could have 12-20 different looking layouts.

Another thing that limits my productivity is font choice.  As one of the original scrapbooking font queens, sorting through my overflowing font collection for the 'perfect' font is also a bit of a hassle.  Viewing fonts with The Font Thing helps, but viewing literally thousands of possibilities still takes time.  So next scrap session, I'll choose a handful of good solid fonts, and be done with the 'possibilities'. 

Some of these tips have been shared before, in other scrapbooking idea books, and in forums and on blogs.  But the way this book is put together, and the simplified approach to just getting pages done, hit home with me.

It's time for me to take control of my own time, and not let it be dictated or sucked up by tasks that aren't really necessary.  My thanks for Courtney for reminding me that just because I have choices, doesn't mean I have to allow myself to be buried in them. I can enjoy my hobby, tell my stories, and be productive.  Who's with me?



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Great advice - I suffer from being paralyzed too. I'm anxious to hear what you think of the rest of the book.

Courtney Walsh


Thanks so much for reviewing "The Busy Scrapper"!! :) I really appreciate it! I hope the tips are helpful (and maybe even liberating?) to people who check it out! :)


That looks likea great book and great inspiration! If only I had the $20 to get it....Chrismas list!

This was a really encouraging post for many and I hope they take head to it.

Jen P

I love you! I've been paralyzed for over a year, and have found myself spending hours wasting time on the computer with useless surfing just to avoid digiscrapping. I tend to be a perfectionist, which means if I can't do it "right" I don't do it at all. :(

I'm going to see if I can find this book, and follow your tips. Hopefully I'll be able to get myself back into scrapping! :)

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